Sir Stephen Tindall on the power of NZ’s global community

Kea (www.keanewzealand.com) has, until now, focused most of its communication and promotional efforts offshore. “But now, following the global economic crunch, we think it is important to try and leverage our growing network of expats to more effectively help New Zealand,” Sir Stephen says. “We want to engage with all New Zealanders, and particularly those involved in exporting.”

Kea recently opened its first New Zealand branch in Auckland and plans to create number of locally-based networks to “get the word out” to local enterprises, particularly exporters, that are unaware of the resource and encourage them to search and use the database to break into global markets.

Sir Stephen believes successful Kea members can provide Kiwi business with three valuable resources: market entry contacts; product, service or market advice, and, in some instances, venture funding or access to equity capital. “There are many highly skilled New Zealanders around the world. We top the OECD ranking in the number of highly skilled expats per capita,” he adds.

He says Kea members are often well placed and willing to help other New Zealand businesses wanting to move offshore. “It can be case of who you know rather than what you know that makes the difference in cracking global markets.

“We are also hoping to put together ways to help fund New Zealand businesses through expats who might be interested in providing seed or venture capital, or even private equity funding, into New Zealand businesses to help them grow.”

Sir Stephen also believes that local Kea chapters, such as Auckland, can provide link to well qualified expats thinking of returning home but who need to know where the opportunities are. “With the global economic downturn and tougher immigration laws in some countries, there has been lessening of job opportunities for our people overseas.

“We want to use the New Zealand market to try and bring these Kiwis back, rather than have them looking to move on to another country. We badly need talent. These individuals have got fantastic global experience so we would like to use Kea as way to recruit.”

The highly skilled and motivated diaspora that Kea represents does not, however, need to trek home to be useful to New Zealand, according to Sir Stephen. “At least 50 percent of the value of our diaspora lies in the very fact that they are diaspora and therefore live and operate in strategically significant places all over the world. I see no difference in whether they are here contributing to New Zealand or whether they are there – wherever that may be – contributing equally to New Zealand,” he says.

“Many Kea members who don’t wish to return still want to help New Zealand. They don’t want us to keep asking them to return – they say that maybe one day I will come home but, for now, don’t push me. They don’t want us to interfere in their lives but they are happy to be engaged.”

Sir Stephen was interviewed by Reg Birchfield for Executive Update.

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